Historic Hood River
We saw this photo of the McCan House on Tucker Road 10 years ago, but since “Cap” McCan is one of the subjects of this year’s Cemetery Tales let’s take another look. And don’t forget to buy your tickets for “Cemetery Tales,” which will be live-streamed this year. Just click through to buy your tickets, and you will see actors portray not only Cap McCan, but Jose and Maria Castilla, Ray Sato, Arline Winchell Moore, Hattie Redmond, Reuben Crawford, as well as Nathaniel, Mary, and Henry Coe.
This photo is from 1915, after McCan had moved. It was serving as the Agricultural Experiment Station, with J.R. Winston (left) and Leroy Childs standing in from.
We have lots of additional info on the house, which still stands on Tucker Road, thanks to a history published by Ruth Guppy in a 1976 Panorama issue of the Hood River News:
In 1910 Capt. Charles Patterson McCan bought 13 acres on the west side, most of it in orchard, from Lee Smith for $17,000, to be used as his country home. This was land on which the Charles M. Sheppard home, still known as ‘the McCan house,’ is located on Tucker road, opposite the Catholic cemetery. The following week brought news that McCan had paid $30,000 for the 20-acre Heilbronner property adjoining his first purchase…. In addition to his $117,000 property purchases in 1910, McCan imported a $7,000 Lozier touring car, built a race track on his farm and filled his barns with fine trotting horses.
The home on Tucker road was sold in late 1913 to J.L. McLean of Portland. It served as the first Horticultural Experiment station here in 1915, then was rented by several families — LeRoy Childs, Ralph Bennett and Victor Follenius among them — until J.L. McLean sold the farm to Charlie Sheppard in 1933.
It was designed by Albert Sutton, a San Francisco architect who had come to live deep in the west hills of the Valley with his twin daughters, because of a custody fight over them. The girls were never without a bodyguard.
The main living-dining room has been kept much as McCan enjoyed it, in the classic style with sculptured plaster ceiling decor and open, curving stairway. The patina of 65 years has only increased the satiny gleam of the Italian onyx fireplace. The magnificent crystal chandeliers from Tiffany’s still hang.
McCan’s master stroke was the commissioning of hand-painted murals which encompass the upper six feet around the main room. It was the first paying work for young Herman Struck, whom McCan had known in his Paris art days. He received $200.
The Strucks’ model orchard adjoined McCan’s property on the east. The Struck home was in later years the Electric Co-op headquarters. Herman became a successful artist after going to San Francisco.
The murals’ pastel shades have faded into a dream-like state, the pastoral scenes gradually emerging as you look — meadows, trees, horses, sheep, haycocks and country houses.
A patio on the east side of the house had its own fireplace and tiled floor for outdoor living. This has since been enclosed. There is also a fireplace in an upstairs bedroom.
McCan had a Chinese cook for whom he imported a professional chef stove mounted on a brick base, long ago exchanged for a modern range.
Having little taste for fruit growing, McCan had ripped out the 13 acres of young apples to build the race track. Around his new home he planted lilacs imported from France, two hedges of them still growing today, as well as a magnolia tree and other exotic plantings.
The Captain stocked his barns with the finest horses he could buy. In his first year here he purchased the trotting sire The Bondsman in New York for $11,000. The horse would become the nucleus of a string of trotters after McCan left Hood River…
Besides horses, McCan stocked the farm with purebred collies, many cats and a Jersey cow (from Jersey, of course), which Forrest Carter later described as looking like “a structure of lathe with cowskin draped over it.” The animals wandered everywhere, to the despair of neighbors.
East of the large barns McCan built a garage for his Lozier, for his Maxwell auto agency and private stalls for his friend’s cars. A heavy snow in January 1912 collapsed the roof, causing much damage. The concrete slab for the building could be seen until a few years ago.
The McCan home became the hub of Hood River’s high society. Life for the Captain at that time was a lark. Hood River was his toy shop. He impulsively bought whatever appealed to him, played with it a while and then took up another toy. He gamboled across the local scene for three years, living extravagantly and with gusto, a roguish, attractive young man….